5 Questions with John Newby, CEO, Virginia Bio

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“5 Questions With…” is a weekly BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people in the BioHealth Capital Region to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. This edition features 5 Questions John Newby, CEO, Virginia Bio.

John Newby is the CEO at Virginia Bio, the statewide non-profit trade association for the life science industry. Approximately 300 companies spanning biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, med tech, diagnostics, digital health, bioinformatics, agriculture, and industrial bio and related fields are based in Virginia, mainly clustered around research universities and medical institutions. Virginia Bio is the sole state affiliate and works closely with key national industry organizations BIO, AdvaMed, MDMA, PhRMA and We Work for Health.

Newby was formerly the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS), where he led an 850-member Agency located across 50 Virginia locations, delivering employment, education, benefits, behavioral health, and long term health care services to Virginia’s Reservists, Guardsmen, transitioning service members and 725,000 veterans. Prior to leading VDVS Newby practiced corporate, intellectual property, and Hatch-Waxman biopharmaceutical law at international law firms in Richmond and Washington DC, and at a multinational company. Newby previously commanded an Air Force special operations unit supporting the U.S. Army’s 3rd and 7th Special Forces Groups (Airborne), and served in Iraq as an aviator aboard the Boeing B-1B Lancer strategic bomber. Newby received a B.S. from the United States Air Force Academy, with Military Distinction, and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

1. You recently transitioned into the BioHealth world after various roles with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Share with us a little about your career path.

To be honest, I probably do not follow what most define as a “career path”; I probably more accurately adhere to a “career philosophy.”  Coming from a military family and being a veteran myself, I have always held a philosophy of and desire for public service, doing things that focus on a larger community and a mission worth supporting.  After leaving the military I went to law school with the same thought in mind: get some skills that would allow one to serve in innumerable capacities.  And glad I did!  It allowed me to practice in the biopharmaceutical space, do pro bono work for veterans filing claims for disability compensation, and led me to an opportunity to run Virginia’s Department of Veterans Services.  And, ultimately, brought me back to the life science community with a wonderful opportunity to lead the Virginia Biotechnology Association, our state’s premier organization supporting all aspects of life science.

2. You’ve been with Virginia Bio for a little over a year. Tell us about your role.

Our mission at Virginia Bio is to promote innovation and growth through strengthened networks, advocacy, capital investment, talent development, and retention, and advance the next generation of leaders. We are a member-driven organization comprising over 270 organizations representing all facets of biotechnology: MedTech, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines; research institutions; and investors. My role is simple: to support our Board and lead a team of professionals to execute that mission. I am primarily focused on network building within the BioHealth Capital Region, attracting capital to Virginia, and ensuring that our state policymakers appreciate and support our industry as we continue to innovate and save lives.

3. The industry in Virginia goes beyond just NoVa. What are some of your favorite stories from companies in the Commonwealth that most of the BioHealth Capital Region wouldn’t know about?

Yes, the industry goes well beyond one region!  For instance, the Richmond area is home to the 34-acre VA Bio+Tech Park, occupied by 70 companies, research institutes, and state/federal laboratories.  The Richmond region also has several major life science employers, such as Phlow Corporation (recent recipient of a $354 million BARDA grant to domestically produce certain API’s), Kaleo, FUJIFILM Wako Chemicals, and GlaxoSmithKlein Consumer Healthcare.

The Charlottesville area has an industry cluster of 179 firms and organizations in biotech and medical devices related industries that employ 3,033 workers, many with connection to the University of Virginia. Over the past 10 years, the region has seen nine major exits from companies within the biotech industry, including the 2018 acquisition of Type Zero by Dexcom and the Jazz Pharmaceutical’s 2019 $315m acquisition of Cavion.

Blacksburg is home to The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) situated on 230-acres with 180 resident research, technology, and support companies. Roanoke’ Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, adjacent to Carilion Clinic, has state-of-the-art facilities for molecular medicine, imaging, high-capacity data handling, and human performance analysis. In addition, the Virginia-Maryland School of Veterinary Medicine is located in Blacksburg, VA.

Hampton Roads, home to 510 life science companies that employ 8,787 workers, has experienced recent investments in a life science sector. Three research parks supporting expansion of the life sciences in the region include the Innovation Research Park @ Old Dominion University, the Tech Center Research Park in Newport News, and the future VABeachBio Research Park

And, of course, Northern Virginia itself, which has made significant investments to grow the life science sector to include the 9,000 sqft. Science accelerator and the 30,000 sq. ft. Northern Virginia BioScience Center expected to open in November 2021. The region is home to George Mason University, George Washington University Loudoun Campus, Northern Virginia Community College, HHMI Janelia Research Campus, and Inova, Sentara, Novant Health System, and several life sciences companies. Northern Virginia is home to 1,517 life science companies that employ 30,555 workers including Ceres Nanoscience, Serpin Pharma, Vibrent, ATCC, and Aperiomics.

4. What do you say to companies looking to startup or relocate to the BioHealth Capital Region about the benefits of Virginia?

Three things: quality of life, talent pool, and bioscience assets.  Regarding the quality of life: many biotechnology companies, responding to economic and employee pressures, are seeking opportunities in more economically viable and hospitable places.  Look no further than Virginia!  Our real estate and lab spaces are ½ or less the price found in Boston and California, and our cost of living and quality of life are immeasurably better!  Our talent pipeline is primed by our major research universities at Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and others.  And regarding our assets: while other bioscience clusters are pricing new companies out of the market and are running out of lab space, Virginia is growing, with nearly 50,000 new sq. ft. of lab space coming online in the next two years.  And in addition to a robust and supportive bioscience ecosystem, another Virginia asset is the geographic proximity to our industry’s key federal agencies including the NIH, FDA, BARDA, DARPA, and NSF.  Come join us!

5. If you weren’t in this line of work, what career would you want to pursue?

Any “career” (such as it may be) that will enable me to lead a team, brought together to achieve a mission that benefits society.  Leadership is a largely underappreciated asset until tragedy strikes or major change needs to be accomplished in a short amount of time.  It is often the difference between a successful organization and one that is, at best, ineffectual and, at worst, detrimental to the community.  So, I would be attracted to anything that allows me to team with people who are working towards something greater than themselves, like what we have here at Virginia Bio.

Thank you to John Newby for participating in the ‘5 Questions with BioBuzz’ series and stay tuned for more interviews with others from across the BioHealth Capital Region and beyond.

Jeff Galvin, CEO and Founder of American Gene Technologies (AGT), Returns to BioTalk with Rich Bendis

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American Gene Technologies International Inc. (AGT) CEO and Founder, Jeff Galvin returns to update us of their Phase 1 Clinical Trial of their lead #HIV Program, their expansion in a new facility, and what’s next!

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Jeff Galvin is the CEO and Founder of American Gene Technologies™ (AGT). He earned his BA degree in Economics from Harvard in 1981 and has more than 30 years of business and entrepreneurial experience including founder or executive positions at a variety of Silicon Valley startups. Several of his companies were taken public and/or sold to public companies, including one in the medical-technology arena that was sold to Varian, the leading maker of linear accelerators used in cancer therapy. Following his startup experience, he retired to become an Angel Investor in real estate and high tech. He came out of retirement to found and fund AGT after meeting Roscoe Brady at NIH.

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Novavax Executive Vice President, Chief Business Officer and Chief Financial Officer, John Trizzino, Guests on BioTalk with Rich Bendis

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John Trizzino, Novavax Executive Vice President, Chief Business Officer and Chief Financial Officer Joins BioTalk to Discuss the Company’s History, COVID-19 Vaccine Development, and Collaboration in the BioHealth Capital Region

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Mr. Trizzino is executive vice president, chief business officer, and chief financial officer with responsibility for all pre-commercial and commercial launch strategy and execution, financial reporting, corporate funding, and investor/public relations. He previously served as senior vice president of commercial operations beginning in 2014. Mr. Trizzino originally joined Novavax in 2009 with a broad range of experiences in small-to-large, publicly held companies. He has an extensive background in the vaccine market with previous roles overseeing commercialization, vaccine policy, strategic development, business development, financing, investor relations, and public relations. In 2011, Mr. Trizzino joined Immunovaccine as its CEO and successfully led the company into clinical development of its lead candidate while securing the required funding commitments in the equity market as well as non-dilutive sources. Prior to his tenures at Novavax and Immunovaccine, Mr. Trizzino had leadership responsibilities at MedImmune, LLC (an AstraZeneca company), ID Biomedical, and Henry Schein, Inc., which were all companies focused on infectious disease vaccine markets. Mr. Trizzino received a bachelor of science degree from Long Island University, CW Post and a master of business administration degree from New York University, Stern School of Business.

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Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB), President and CEO, Michele L. Whelley, Joins Rich Bendis on BioTalk

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Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB), President and CEO, Michele L. Whelley, joins BioTalk to discuss her career, the economic development environment in Baltimore, and how to create a greater sense of partnership between perceived competing regions.

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Michele L. Whelley, President & CEO, is an economic development professional who is well-known throughout the region’s business community, Whelley brings new energy and focus to marketing the region, ensuring that EAGB will continue to strengthen its marketing platform as a critical component of fostering and supporting a vibrant and growing economy throughout the Greater Baltimore region.
Whelley’s diverse career as an economic development leader includes serving as the CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, as the founding CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, CEO of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and executive vice-president of the Baltimore Development Corporation.  Additionally, she has provided consulting services for Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, several private sector development companies and staffed an economic development practice at Colliers Pinkard, a real estate brokerage company. More recently, Whelley has provided a full range of economic development consulting services to organizations including Howard Hughes Corporation, Baltimore Integration Partnership, Southern Management Corporation, Network Rail Consulting, Inc., and Betamore.

Whelley received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from the University of Maryland. She then attended the University of Maryland School of Law where she received her Juris Doctor. She sits on the board of directors for The Hippodrome Foundation, Baltimore Design School and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

Jennifer Butler, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Innate Pharma US Inc. sits down with Rich Bendis for BioTalk

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Jennifer Butler, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Innate Pharma US Inc. joins Rich Bendis on BioTalk to discuss her career, bringing Innate from France to the US, and goals.

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Jennifer Butler was appointed Executive Vice President and General Manager of Innate Pharma US Inc. in March 2019.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Butler served as Chief Business Officer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of US operations, responsible for global business development and commercial strategy at Tessa Therapeutics, a clinical-stage oncology company. She previously served for more than 10 years in various commercial and strategy roles with increasing responsibility at AstraZeneca/MedImmune across several therapeutic areas. Ms. Butler also previously worked in strategic healthcare consulting and as an analyst in Equity Capital Markets at Merrill Lynch.

Ms. Butler has more than 20 years of strategic marketing and commercial leadership expertise along with general management experience.

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BioFactura, Inc. Co-Founder, President & CEO, Darryl Sampey, PH.D., Virtually Sits Down with Rich Bendis for BioTalk

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BioFactura, Inc. Co-Founder, President & CEO, Darryl Sampey, PH.D., joins BioTalk to discuss his background with the University of Maryland, the BioHealth Capital Region, and the creation of his company in Frederick.

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Darryl Sampey co-founded BioFactura in 2004 and has guided the venture over the past 15 years from start-up through incubator stages to become a significant biopharmaceutical product development and clinical manufacturing company. As President and CEO, Dr. Sampey manages all strategic and scientific endeavors of the Company. Before BioFactura, he led both process development and manufacturing teams at Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (HGS) honing his skills developing and scaling up new biologics processes and control strategies. During his tenure with HGS, Dr. Sampey played key roles in the start-up, commissioning, and validation of the company’s first cGMP manufacturing facility and associated development laboratories. Prior to his work at HGS, Dr. Sampey gained industrial experience in the commercial research laboratory designing and optimizing fermentation and product recovery processes for novel vaccines at North American Vaccine, Inc. His work in vaccine research has since progressed to internationally-approved vaccines for whooping cough in infants and meningitis in adults. Darryl Sampey began his career in biotechnology at the University of Maryland graduating first in his class with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude, and, subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Bioengineering.

Alex Philippidis, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News Senior News Editor, Guests on BioTalk

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Alex Philippidis joins Rich Bendis on BioTalk to discuss the BioHealth Capital Region from a National viewpoint, other Hubs, and how the industry has adapted in the age of COVID-19.

Alex specializes in biopharma business news and industry issues for GEN. He joined GEN in 2011 after four years at GenomeWeb, where he covered research institutes and spent three years following biotech economic development as editor of the weekly newsletter BioRegion News. Alex reports a variety of news stories for GEN and Clinical OMICs and compiles the popular A-Lists series.

Alex previously worked for more than 20 years for various newspapers covering business, science, the Navy, and general-interest news. He has been interviewed and quoted by news outlets, including the New York Times and the BBC. He enjoys solving crossword puzzles, watching classic TV game shows, and traveling with his family.

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Charles Andres and Christian Barrow join BioTalk to discuss investing, growth and the BioHealth Capital Region during COVID-19

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Charles Andres, Ph.D., RAC, Associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Christian Barrow, Executive Director, Life Sciences Banking at JP Morgan, join Rich Bendis for a Virtual BioTalk

Charles Andres, Ph.D., RAC, is an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. He focuses on patent prosecution, strategic patent counseling, IP due diligence, drug and medical device FDA regulatory counseling, invalidity and non-infringement opinions, life-cycle management, Supreme Court and Federal Circuit amicus briefs, and related business matters.

Charlie has significant experience drafting patent applications, prosecuting patent applications in the U.S. and abroad, and evaluating the claims of issued patents. He has won cases before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences by brief and on oral argument. Patents Charlie has obtained have been listed in the Orange Book and asserted against a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer, and he has drafted and filed multiple applications for patent term extension. Companies he has obtained patents for have been sold for a cumulative total of approximately $4 billion.

Christian Barrow is a senior banker with J. P. Morgan commercial bank. Chris joined J.P. Morgan in 2012 in the Philadelphia office, where he and his team focus on providing financial solutions to life sciences companies located in the Mid-Atlantic – Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Chris has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry with roles that have spanned from public accounting to banking.

Chris’ current job is to help life science companies in biotech, specialty pharmaceutical, specialty pharmacy, medical device, med-tech, medical diagnostics, and contract research organizations, gain access to JPMorgan’s well-known healthcare commercial and investment banking resources.

Prior to his current role, Chris started his career with EY (inactive CA and CPA licenses). He subsequently served as a senior banker for Bank of America. In this capacity, he was responsible for origination and structuring of debt products to general industry companies located in Pennsylvania.

Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a graduate diploma in Accounting both from McGill University. He currently resides in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.

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Emergent BioSolutions Executive Vice President, Manufacturing and Technical Operations, Sean Kirk Guests on BioTalk

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Sean M. Kirk, Executive Vice President, Manufacturing and Technical Operations at Emergent BioSolutions joins Rich Bendis to discuss the COVID-19 Health Crisis, Emergent’s Capabilities in Manufacturing in the BioHealth Capital Region and Beyond


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Mr. Kirk joined Emergent BioSolutions in 2003 and has served as executive vice president, manufacturing and technical operations since April 2019. Prior to this position, Mr. Kirk has held various senior leadership roles including senior vice president, manufacturing operations and contract development and manufacturing operations (CDMO) business unit lead from April 2017 to March 2019, senior vice president, biodefense operations from November 2015 to March 2017, senior vice president, biosciences operations from February 2014 to November 2015 and senior vice president, biodefense vaccines and therapeutics development from March 2012 to February 2014. Mr. Kirk also served in multiple roles of increasing responsibility at Emergent’s manufacturing operations site in Lansing, Michigan.


Before joining Emergent, Mr. Kirk worked at Merial, a multinational animal health company, serving in various positions from 1996 to 2001. Mr. Kirk received both an M.B.A. and B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia.

Stewart L. Edelstein, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Universities at Shady Grove, Joins Rich Bendis on BioTalk

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Executive Director of the Universities at Shady Grove, Stewart L. Edelstein, Ph.D., joins BioTalk to discuss his career, USG, and its role in the BioHealth Capital Region

Dr. Stewart Edelstein joined the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) as Executive Director in 2002 and in 2007 was named to the dual title of Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University System of Maryland (USM).

USG is a regional campus of USM that offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs from nine partner universities. During Dr. Edelstein’s tenure, USG expanded its number of participating universities, as well as the breadth and depth of its academic programs, and enrollment has grown significantly, to more than 3,000 students. The campus’s capacity for future enrollment growth has doubled with the recent opening of a new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility, which is expanding degree and certification offerings in healthcare, engineering, biosciences, computer science and other areas.

Under Dr. Edelstein’s leadership, USG has collaborated with Montgomery College and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to better articulate curriculum planning and degree completion initiatives within the county. An important partnership is a series of 2+2+2 programs – together with MCPS and MC – to create education and career pathways in professional fields. These initiatives place special emphasis on strengthening the pipeline for underrepresented and first-generation college student populations.

Dr. Edelstein serves on the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and as co-chair of its Economic Development Committee. He is on the board of Identity, WorkSource Montgomery, and Montgomery Moving Forward, and on the Maryland Cybersecurity Council. He served as a member of the Montgomery County Bioscience Task Force, the Montgomery County Smart Growth Initiative, and the Montgomery County Life Sciences Advisory Committee. He has been honored for his many contributions to the community by the Montgomery County Chamber, the Montgomery County Board of Education, and by the County Executive’s Hispanic Gala.

Prior to arriving at USG, Dr. Edelstein enjoyed a 25-year career at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he ultimately served as Senior Associate Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Dr. Edelstein received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

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